Yesterday, I threw out all my QSL cards

QSL CardsThousands and thousands of them.

They were taking up way too much space and energy just sitting there in their pretty little files, all sorted by countries in order by prefix. Prefixes that keep on changing as the world changes.

There was a time when I chased DX and I used the cards to get my DX awards. The awards that now sit in a desk drawer somewhere; I don’t remember where. But since Kate and I are going through the house — all of the house — and getting rid of that which is no longer important, the awards will go out too.

That isn’t something that is derogatory to DXer’s, by the way. Chasing DX is a wonderful aspect to this hobby and one that consistently draws in new members to our fraternity. But I don’t chase DX anymore. I haven’t for years. And years.

That doesn’t mean I won’t answer QSL cards; I have plenty of those sitting on the shelf for direct cards and a nice account at Global QSL for the bureau cards.

But one of the practices we need to have in this hobby is to stop considering the past as present and retelling the stories of what happened 20-years ago (or a story from 50 years ago I was told yet again last night) like it was yesterday. And still relevant. Mostly, it isn’t relevant. We need to look forward to opportunities and not the past to cling to the status quo.

We’ve changed. The world has shifted under our feet and the past is no guarantee of future success. The hobby needs to change. It is time we got rid of all that dusty stuff that represents holding on to the past so we can build the future.

I started with my QSL cards.

Very brave — and inspiring. If I was home right now I would follow your lead.

As you pointed out, it isn’t that I don’t like QSLs — it’s more a matter of space and logic. I have boxes of them, some I haven’t touched in 30 years. What is the point of saving them? A few years ago I started scanning them so I would have them captured electronically — but there is no way I am going to go back and scan all of them…

In this regard, QSL cards are a lot like old ham radio magazines… I hate to toss them in the trash but really, what would I ever do with a six-foot stack of them?

Thanks for blazing a trail.

73, Jeff

Thanks, Jeff!

Also, I received an e-mail this morning suggesting that this article also meant that QSL’s and awards are no longer relevant or important. That’s not the case; they are. My point is that in this great hobby of ours, there are many different parts that people can play. We go from DX’ing to contesting to satellites to VHF to digital to construction to vintage rig restoration to whatever. And, after we have moved on, I think we should get rid of the stuff that is no longer important to us and look to the future. In my case, one of those things are QSL cards (and I stopped saving the magazines years ago!).

Traditions are important for the hobby. The interesting debate is what we should consider a tradition worth keeping in the face of all of the changes in the world. But, that’s another article. I just wanted to clarify that I’m not saying get rid of traditions, but get rid of your stuff that is part of your ham radio past. We need to move on.

And, by the way, I’m really glad the person sent the e-mail so I could clarify this. What we think people will get when we write something is not necessarily what they get. A lesson that applies to e-mail as well…


Why not just take all your certificates and put them in a three ring binder will sit quietly on a bookshelf? Then you can occasionally pull out the book and show to Newbies and friends.
Just a thought!

@Rick — I got rid of the QSL cards, not the certificates. The certificates (and plaques) are safely in a file drawer cabinet. However, the three ring binder is a good idea!

Douglas, N7KF

On the other hand, you could find uses for your QSL cards. I have used mine to set up displays at the local library and at the high school where used to teach. They also get pulled out to “hook” others on Ham radio. Use your imagination to find other times to display them.


It was sad to read the article, but I guess I’m the only one. I collect foreign postcards and never took out an interest in the QSL cards and Ham radio is way beyond my technical abilities or interest. Recently however, I started to take notice by accident that QSL cards are quite an interesting topic and I came across some that fitted well in my postcard collection, especially some from overseas. So, hey, anyone thinks about throwing them away, give me a sign and would reimburse you the shipping and a little bit of money for the trouble 🙂
PS I hope that I am not breaking any posting rules here….

No rules breaking here, Cristian. Actually, a very good point in that QSL Cards can contain stamps to collect. Although, interestingly, it is usually the envelopes that carry the postage stamp and not the card itself.

So we need to collect the envelopes and then offer them up as something of value to people.


My husband WW4L (formerly NO4N) is now a silent key. I have boxes of QSL cards and envelopes with unusual stamps. I don’t want to through to destroy them or just toss them out…. Anyone have any ideas?


Correction: that should be throw or not through to …sorry about that.

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